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Never Ending Nightmares?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a teen in the U.S.: So, just two months ago I was discharged from a psych hospital after trying to kill myself. I’ve struggled with depression, self harm, and anxiety all my life. When I left the hospital, I went back to my school and my ‘friends’ had spread awful rumors about me, which basically made everyone hate me. I just recently switched schools, but I have noticed that something is up when I sleep.

Every night I have the same nightmare, just taking place in different locations. Sometimes it will be in my old room at the hospital, sometimes it will be in the middle of no where. I can’t tell, but it’s always my two closest friends out of the bunch that spread the rumors, and us becoming okay again, but then they just start yelling at me about how useless I am.

Or sometimes, there will be a complete twist and one of them is in the hospital with me, or one of them attempted suicide too. I always wake up screaming, crying, and sweating. I can’t seem to make it stop no matter what I do.

Keep in mind that I am talking melatonin for sleep. I’m also on 150 mg of zoloft and 5 mg 3 times a day of buspar. (that dosage is about to go up).

Can you please help me understand why this is happening to me? I just want to sleep through the night.

I can only make an educated guess. The last few months have been terribly stressful. You had help in the hospital but then had to return to school where you were betrayed by friends. It is no wonder to me that you are anxious and upset. It is also not surprising that the same feelings you struggle with when you are awake bother you when you are asleep. It’s as if you are trying very hard to make sense of all that has happened.

You said that you are on medication. You didn’t say if you are also involved in talk therapy. If not, please, please get yourself a therapist. If you could resolve these feelings and move on on your own, you would have done so already. You need the wisdom and support of a therapist to help you.

If you are with a therapist, please share what you have written in your letter. It might be easier to just take your letter with you and read it to her/him during the next session as a way to get started.

In addition, please do talk to your prescriber about your nightmares. Sometimes sleep disturbance is an outcome of medication. It may be that an adjustment to dosage or a change of medication will help with the immediate problem of getting some good sleep. Even if that is the case, I hope you will sign on for regular sessions with a therapist for a while to help you fully recover from the depression and anxiety that has plagued you most of your life. You deserve to move forward with peace of mind.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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